Rule Five Free Speech Friday

The Mayor of (liberal) Portland is responding to a stabbing by attacking the First Amendment.  Excerpt:

In the wake of a Portland stabbing that left two men dead, mayor Ted Wheeler is demanding that the Federal Government cancel two rallies in his city. One of the rallies is a pro-Trump free speech rally, and the other is a march against Sharia. These are both obviously causes that go against American values and that present a clear and present danger to society, at least in the mind of a left-wing mayor.

The killings in Portland were horrific, they ended the lives of two great Americans, one was a recent college graduate with a promising future, the other an Army Veteran with a heart dedicated to serving his community. Both of these men, along with another young man who is in critical condition, stepped into a situation to defend two young women who were simply minding their own business, and were being verbally abused by a man on the light-rail. Instead of honoring the sacrifices of these men, mayor Ted Wheeler is using the situation to further a political agenda, with little basis in fact.

The first error the mayor makes is associating this stabbing with “right-wing terrorism”. Although the mainstream media has largely reported this to be the case, there is evidence to the contrary. The stabber, Jeremy Joseph Christian, was an ardent Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein supporter, as can be found in screenshots from his Facebook page. The tone of his Facebook posts indicate that the man clearly has major mental health issues, and do not seem to indicate any right-wing sentiments.

Despite all of this evidence that the man who committed the attack was not a Trump-supporting anti-sharia advocate, the mayor has targeted those two rallies, citing hate speech as a reason to shut them down.

Let me state this very bluntly:  Ted Wheeler is a fucking idiot.

Let’s set aside Wheeler’s stupidly asinine characterization of the June 4 “Trump Free Speech Rally” and the “March Against Sharia” that is scheduled for June 10 as “hate speech.”  It may be unpleasant speech, but it’s not hateful.  And even if it is, it is still protected by the First Amendment.

It has become a too-common attitude that hate speech is, for some unknown reason, not protected by the First Amendment.  Just for the record, here is that amendment in full:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Got that?  Congress (and by dint of the 14th Amendment, other levels of government) cannot abridge the freedom of speech.  Pretty plain language, right?  So is the Second Amendment (A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed) but that hasn’t stopped pols of every stripe from trying to infringe on that very enumerated right.

Now the totalitarians have moved on to the First Amendment.

Here’s a clue for Mayor Wheeler and his ilk:  The First Amendment not only tolerates “hate speech” (an essentially meaningless term) it is useless if it does not tolerate, even protect, “hate speech.”

Free speech means you have to let Nazis and Klansmen have rallies.

Free speech means you have to let the Black Panthers shout racist epithets.

Free speech means you have to let the assholes from Westboro Baptist Church shout “God hates fags.”

Free speech means that anti-Sharia and pro-Trump rallies are protected, no matter whether or not some left-wing loony went off on an anti-Muslim murder spree on a train.

If anyone is not free to speak, then nobody is free to speak.  That’s what the First Amendment means.  We all live in a “free speech zone;” it’s the United States of America.

We forget that at our peril.